POETRY: The Chimes Of Neverwhere by Les Murray

The Chimes Of Neverwhere by Les Murray

How many times did the Church prevent war?
Who knows? Those wars did not occur.
How many numbers don’t count before ten?
Treasures of the Devil in Neverwhere.

The neither state of Neverwhere
is hard to place as near or far
since all things that didn’t take place are there
and things that have lost the place they took:

Herr Hitler’s buildings, King James’s cigar,
the happiness of Armenia,
the Abelard children, the Manchu’s return
are there with the Pictish Grammar Book.

The girl who returned your dazzled look
and the mornings you might have woke to her
are your waterbed in Neverwhere.
There shine the dukes of Australia

and all the great poems that never were
quite written, and every balked invention.
There too are the Third AIF and its war
in which I and boys my age were killed

more pointlessly with each passing year.
There too half the works of sainthood are
enslavements, tortures, rapes, despair
deflected by them from the actual

to beat on the human-sacrifice drum
that billions need not die to hear
since Christ’s love of them struck it dumb
and his agony keeps it in Neverwhere.

How many times did the Church bring peace?
More times than it happened. Leave it back there:
the children we didn’t let out of there need it,
for the Devil’s at home in Neverwhere.

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